Some things break your heart but fix your vision.Unknown
I deserved to lose my job when I did. My billability had declined during the six months leading up to that day. My output rate lagged in comparison to my peers. I did not attend every team social lunch because I had exactly eight hours to get my shit done before I went straight to my next job without having time for dinner. The hope and optimism I walked into the door with on the first day had faded. Along with any enthusiasm for the work I was doing due to a number of circumstantial factors, both in and outside of the office.
These are some of the reasons that I believe led to my firing.
After frantically scouring the legal jargon of the employment agreement and non-compete, I learned my contract didn’t require my employer to provide any reasoning or details in regard to why they felt a severance of ties was the best path forward. I could have issued a request for answers and they would have had 10 days to serve me the receipts following my exit interview.
But after I’d calmed down a little I realized reading those details would probably have bene my official demise. If their review process felt abrasive and excruciating, I’m pretty sure reading aloud the details of why I was terminated would have, this time, ruined me for good.
I opted not to take my chances. Instead, I’ve had countless conversations with myself since the day I received my official papers of termination, “effective immediately.”
I remember wincing at those last and final words right before I broke down in tears. Even though I wasn’t shocked that this was my fate, anticipation didn’t soften the blow.
My fight-or-flight instincts kicked in on impact.
Unfortunately, what that sometimes translated to for me is initial panic, followed by a frenzy of questions, and the grand finale, a good old ugly cry.
I’m sure this response was not terribly surprising to her, my manager and the CEO of the company I was working at. She was used to seeing me sad and confused by then, thanks to my six and 12-month performance reviews.
Looking back, I think the peer review process was really what chipped away at my drive and enthusiasm. And that’s not an attempt to displace the blame. That’s just me being reflective and honest.
The company culture, and their intolerance for sensitivity and bullshit, is why I didn’t last longer than I did.
Those one-on-one, bi-annual review meetings and the format in which they used to present feedback chewed me up and spat me out six ways to Sunday. It was a process that no matter how much good feedback was given to make the rest a little more palpable, left my spirit and my self-confidence absolutely beaten to a pulp. After a day or two would go by, it’d get a little bit better. I usually stopped crying by then. But my defeat and sensitivity was not their problem, it was mine.
And they could spot it from a mile away throughout the course of my initial rounds of interviews.
The moral of the story here can be boiled down to this, Inprela’s initial assessment of me checked out. I was too soft to work for them and be successful, not only because the scope of work required fire, resilience and unwavering tenacity, but the company culture and office politics maybe definitely aren’t for everyone.
Now I feel obliged to interrupt here before I get too far ahead of myself. I’d like to make it clear that the goal of this post is not to sound spiteful or bitter, because ultimately I know the only person’s shoulder this termination falls upon are my own. Trust, this post is not coming from a disgruntled former employee. Quite the opposite, actually.
Because I have nothing but gratitude and respect when it comes to my former manager and team, who gave me more than one chance to prove myself fit to be an Inprelian. I am endlessly grateful for the 365 days that I got to soak up their brilliance and use it to improve my professional skill set.
I was working for two incredible women who have helped prove that we, women, are collectively and individually powerful enough to operate a legit and excellent business practice without the help of men (that is, aside from a husband that provided beer and a handy father who built things — major key).
I’m thankful for my directors Heather & Hilary.
Sigrid, the most lovely and spunky Inprelian, who stuck her neck out for me and gave the team the last stamp of approval they needed before they’d be conviced that I had the ability to show up and fake fire, even if all I really had in me was rainwater.
Amanda, who was my partner on what seemed like the most rewarding projects and possesses the most powerful combination of charisma, leadership and positivity I’ve ever come across.
Calla, my “big sis” mentor, my coach, my friend and all around the most resourceful, encouraging, and hilarious coworker of all time.
Alexa, who shows up to work every day with an enthusiasm and can-do mindset that I’m pretty sure is virtually unshakeable.
Becca, who walked in with me on our first day. Being the first to witness my mortifyingly hilarious first impression. The one when I almost shattered the brand new and shiny glass door with my pull force, because I was too distracted by the butterflies in the pit of my stomach to notice the hot pink sticky note reading “PUSH” in shouty caps. Not only did she NOT cancel me after that episode of sheer embarrassment. But she made my whole Inprela experience a little less scary with her ability to maintain grace under fire, and fearlessness when it came to trying new things.
Karina, who was the only one in the office that could truly relate to my more sensitive, less assertive disposition. Karina took the extra time to provide constructive advice when she edited my work, and she always knew how to check in when I was having a rough day. In hindsight, I think she knew this was a more effective way to get through to someone with a different Strengths Finder result, MBTI and PI Index than the rest of those in the office. Karina and I learned that we shared the same Myers Briggs early on and at that moment, it felt like she became a trusted ally and confidant.
I think trust is the most essential foundational element to any successful relationship. Trust, followed very closely by understanding. Whether it be a friendship, work relationship or romantic relationship. Without those fundamental elements, all you’ve got is a hotbed for crossed wires and conflict.
After my six-month review, I felt extremely misunderstood, undervalued, and defeated. It was hard to trust my team and my management anymore and I could no longer maintain open lines of communication with anyone in the office. I can only imagine how misunderstanding my distant presence made them feel after that. This, I believe, is why I wound up where I did.
BUT WAIT ONE MORE I’M NOT FINISHED
Last but not least, Ally, the chick with the great hair, wardrobe, work ethic and an authenticity that lights up the room. For the youngest employee in the office, she was kicking ass and taking names right out of the gates.
It brings me such relief to look back at these times and these people with complete admiration and not one bit of resentment now. Because the truth is, no matter how bad the ending, going into that job on the first day I was beaming with confidence, pride and excitement to have the opportunity to work for all women-owned and operated PR agency.
Granted, I was also petrified because my mind immediately goes to worst-case scenario when I’m about to do something I am not certain I am fit to do.
But the job was on brand, I sensed a team culture that I could probably vibe with and it meant not processing tax returns or standing at a copy machine for 20 out of 40 hours per week.
It was a godsend.
To their credit, they were willing to risk it all on me even though I know they weren’t quite sure about me and had their doubts from the get-go. They were certain I had the technical acumen and skills to succeed. But they assessed that I was perhaps lacking the grit necessary to really kill it as an Inprelian PR Pro.
I pleaded my case and was apparently persuasive enough for them to extend an offer to the great on paper, decent in person, but a little too mousy in general candidate, yours truly.
It’s taken a great deal of rationalizing, denying, regretting, sobbing and deep breathing before I arrived at a place of acceptance towards this.
And so, despite a very ungraceful arrival (literally) and departure, it will no longer take a toll on my morale. Never again will I harbor any negative sentiments when it comes to the time I spent as an Assistant Account Executive at Inprela Communications.
Because at the end of the day, the Inprela team was doing me a solid. Both when they hired me, and when they fired me.